Through-Hike from Lower Echo Lake to Mt. Tallac

Lower Echo Lake, Echo Lake, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    19 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2100 Feet


Enjoy beautiful views of the Desolation Wilderness and of Lake Tahoe above 10,000ft on this 19 mile thru-hike.

This hike can be done as a backpacking trip or as I did it, a full day through hike. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. First you start by driving away from Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. You will climb Echo summit and as you begin coming down the hill you will see Echo Lakes Rd on the right hand side. Driving down this little windy road will bring you to a parking lot near Lower Echo Lake. This is a great spot to park and begin your hike.

Immediately you drop down to the lake and join the TRT. You then begin to climb gently along Lower Echo Lake. During the morning hours this is a very peaceful place. You then pass by Upper Echo Lake which is also a very beautiful lake. You will also see some rustic and beautiful little cabins. The hike is relatively gentle as you climb slowly and pass by more mountain lakes.

Eventually you will begin to see Lake Aloha which is absolutely wondrous. This lake is about 6 miles into the hike. There many spots to stop and have a lunch and just admire the beauty you are in the midst of!! As you hike along the lake you will come to a junction that splits to either stay along Lake Aloha or head away from the lake towards Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac. You can see Mt Tallac along most of the journey. Heather Lake is another beautiful lake to admire as is Gilmore Lake. Once you arrive to Gilmore Lake there will be a junction that directs you to Mt Tallac. This is where the trail starts to climb steep. From this point you have a 2-3 mile climb up to the summit of Mt Tallac. You climb right into the side of the mountain and once you reach the ridgeline your vista will speak for itself. Lake Tahoe will open up to you and all is beauty and vastness. From here the descent is a tough steep downhill climb near Fallen Leaf Lake and eventually the parking area where many hikers start from.

My angle on this day was one of hope. I did not have a hiking partner or a second car or a method of getting back to my car. I was hopeful that the beauty of the outdoor community would pull through. I was lucky to find a nice couple on their honeymoon willing to bring me back to my car which was a 30 minute drive. However, if you have two cars you can simply park one at either end and not have to worry. But on a good day I would be willing to bet you might find someone willing to help you out. Hope you enjoy this beautiful hike as much as I did! Aloha

Pack List

  • 10 essentials (if backpacking)
  • Water
  • Lunch
  • Hiking boots
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
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One of my favorite peaks in Tahoe. Definitely intermediate hike but well worth the effort for the lakes, flowers, desolation wilderness, and the final view of Tahoe and Fallen Leaf lake from the top. Excellent full day adventure with a few false peaks but keep with it and the end view is worth it!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Jacques Lamoureux

I am a Contracting Officer in the USAF. I have always loved the outdoors but only until recently have been ventured out to truly explore any place I am able to get to. Nature brings a calming sense to our being and striving for synchronicity with it is my goal. Most times I travel alone and find ways to capture the beautiful places I am able to visit. The military has afforded me the opportunity to see many parts of the world and exploring these different places has become my passion!

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